I came across this advertisement for Magners Pear Cider (Ireland), in which the comedian Mark Watson describes his purchase of a new cell phone compared to the simplicity of his cider. He makes the wonderful quote when describing his new phone.
“plug and play, break down and cry more like”.
While the advert is obviously about selling cider (quite good I have heard) it does point out the fact that for a lot of people the complexity of today’s modern handheld super duper phone is just a bit too much.
In an interesting juxtaposition, there is an article in the Guardian (U.K.) which describes the new Vergatorio phone launched by Hugo Chavez the president of Venezuela. The phone is priced at $15, 25% of the actual manufacturing cost. It has a camera, WAP Internet access and an FM radio as well as MP3 and MP4 music and video players. The initial production run is quite ambitious at 600,000, rising to 2 million in 2011 when the Venezuelan government expects to export the model to the Caribbean. As a point of reference there are approximately 27 million mobile subscribers in Venezuela.
This got me thinking. Here we have a phone full of features for $15 which by its very nature will be complex and more difficult to use. While there is expected to be a surge of orders for the new phone given the price and Chavez’s endorsement, in the long run will it be successful if they haven’t solved the ease of use issue? Will we be seeing adverts in Venezuela in a couple of years pitching the local alcoholic beverage of choice as simple choice compared to the Vergatorio?